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Penn State Berks’ Abdullah Konak Named IST Faculty Member of the Year

by Penn State Berks

Dec 04, 2023

Photo courtesy of Penn State

Abdullah Konak, distinguished professor of information sciences and technology at Penn State Berks, was recently named the Penn State College of Information Sciences and Technology Statewide Faculty Member of the Year. He was presented with the award at the fall IST faculty meeting on Friday, Oct. 27.

The University-wide award recognizes outstanding faculty members from across the Commonwealth who exemplify the mission of the college for improving the lives of people in Pennsylvania, the nation, and the world through integrated, high-quality programs in teaching, research, and outreach. Awardees excel in their efforts to accomplish the school’s mission and have an outstanding record of fostering leaders for a digital, global economy.

Konak credited Penn State Berks, his colleagues, and his students for his achievements.

“Penn State Berks offers many opportunities to promote faculty development and projects. Our college values continuous improvement and professional development. I used these opportunities to start and grow many research, teaching, and community service projects. I am very thankful for this support,” he stated.

Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer Todd Migliaccio noted Konak’s commitment to student success, research, and community engagement, as well as his significant campus involvement.

“Dr. Konak is the epitome of the ideal of a teacher/scholar. His work reaches across all areas of the University, obtaining grants, engaging students, supporting their advancement in extracurricular opportunities, and ultimately connecting with our community. He collaborates across departments regularly, as we can see with his Artificial Intelligence, Modeling, and Simulation Laboratory (AIMS Lab). He is highly respected inside and outside of his field. Our campus is lucky to have a colleague like Dr. Konak, positively representing Penn State and Penn State Berks specifically.”

In nominating Konak for the award, Tricia Clark, Penn State Berks program chair and assistant professor of information technology, noted his commitment to his students, his colleagues, and the campus.

“Dr. Konak excels in all facets of faculty responsibilities, including teaching, research, and service. I am continually inspired by his innovative initiatives, active engagement, and remarkable accomplishments,” stated Clark.

In 2021, Konak was named distinguished professor of information sciences and technology at Penn State Berks, an honor awarded to faculty who are leaders in their fields of research, have demonstrated excellent teaching skills, and contributed significantly to the education of students who subsequently have achieved recognition of excellence in their fields.

Clark goes on to state that earlier this year, Konak received the Penn State Open and Affordable Educational Resources Champion Award for creating original materials for his courses, including five interactive e-books with labs.

His contributions to teaching and learning are many. He helped develop and enrich three of the college’s programs: information technology, cybersecurity analytics and operations, and security and risk analysis degree programs. For example, Konak created the Collaborative Virtual Computer Laboratory (CVCLAB) at Penn State Berks to provide students with active learning experiences that involve collaborative hands-on experimentation. Students can access the CVCLAB’s resources and perform activities that are impossible to complete on campus or on their personal computers. In addition, the CVCLAB is used in youth outreach programs, including summer camps and K-12 cybersecurity activities.

Konak also created the Artificial Intelligence, Modeling, and Simulation Laboratory (AIMS Lab) to inform and educate the community about emerging issues in AI, provide research-guided assistance to organizations, and educate and support the next generation of AI experts.

“Throughout the years, he has provided unwavering support to students, guiding them in undergraduate research and honors projects and securing Erickson Discovery Grants. His students have co-authored research papers with him as well as successfully transitioned to graduate school and industry positions. Dr. Konak’s commitment to challenging and nurturing his students has been instrumental in their substantial learning,” stated Clark.

Describing his collaborations with colleagues and students as some of his most meaningful work at Penn State Berks, Konak said, “I am thrilled to work with a dynamic group of colleagues and students passionate about research and teaching. I appreciate the collaborations that I have established both within and outside Penn State. Over the years, I also collaborated with many exceptional undergraduate research students, which has made my work incredibly enjoyable and fulfilling. Without these collaborations, my work would be impossible.”

In addition, Konak serves as the faculty adviser for the Penn State Berks Cyber Lions student organization, whose aim is to raise awareness of cybercrimes and scams targeting seniors and to help protect them from scammers and criminals. The group visits retirement communities regularly to teach the residents about online security.

Konak’s community engagement efforts were recognized in 2022 when he was honored with the INFORMS Volunteer Service Award, which recognizes exceptional volunteer service, engagement, and impact. Konak served as vice president, treasurer, secretary, and council member in the Telecommunications and Network Analytics section of INFORMS. Additionally, he was a key member in organizing the Telecommunications and Network Analytics Conference.

Internationally known in his field, Konak has published highly cited papers in the most prestigious journals and has received grant funding for his work. In September 2023, he served as a panelist at the United Nations Research Summit. He is a co-investigator on the NSF-funded AccelNet-Implementation: US-Africa Sustainable Food Systems through Water-Energy-Food Nexus Networking (SustainFood), a University-wide collaboration among multiple departments and campuses, as well as the NSF-funded Cultivating Innovative Thinking Skills in STEM Education grant.

Konak has been a visiting professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Cornell University, and Lehigh University. He is a member of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Konak earned his doctorate in industrial engineering from the University of Pittsburgh, his master’s degree in industrial engineering from Bradley University, and his bachelor’s degree from Yildiz Technical University in Turkey.

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